Track dinosaur

Last Friday I ran only my second 10000m – at Orion Harriers annual Fast Friday track event. Whilst the distinction between a 10000m and a 10k may be subtle, it is one I am happy to make, particularly as it guaranteed me a PB. I have run twenty two 10k races and my PB in that discipline currently stands at 39:04, however I recorded just 44:04 in my first 10000m back in 2007. When I entered Friday’s race I anticipated my recovery and training going well and had an optimistic target of 39:30 in mind. Before arriving at the venue I modified this slightly, as I have had to back off for the last two weeks, to a still highly optimistic 40:00.

I arrived in good time and picked up my snazzy, bespoke race numbers; front and rear, got changed and talked to one or two other runners. I warmed up gently and made a mental note to search online for information on best practice when warming up … I have a feeling that I warm up too close to race start.

As the race started shortly after 7:30pm, I consciously set out at a pace faster than my target with a view to testing the limits of my performance to gauge how far my recovery has come. I have done this a couple of times recently; my logic being that since events are not currently likely to produce PBs, achieving a particular time target is not in and of itself the most important thing. In this, slightly unusual, case I rationalised that whatever PB time I recorded it would be one I would hope to better significantly when fully fit. I set out at 39:35 pace, partly because this made the mental maths, 95 seconds per lap, easier as I passed the race clock every 400 metres and partly because two runners soon settled in at this pace in front of me. Although I was wearing a GPS watch I did not want to rely on it for pace or distance on a track.

This seemed to go well for a while. In fact, I was arriving at the start/finish a few seconds inside each lap target, but the two runners soon left me behind as my pace slowed. I continued to try and do the mental maths to check my lap splits … 1:35, 3:10, 4:45, 6:20, 7:55, but struggled to get it right beyond lap 5 as the physical effort became more demanding. Even as I completed lap 5, and the first 2k, my average pace to that point was only just inside 4:00/km – which of course projects to a 10000m time of just under 40:00.

Just before half way, perhaps 10 laps into the 25 lap race, I was lapped by the lead runner. I was not discouraged by this or by the majority of the field who also subsequently also lapped me. I knew the target times of the other runners, from my race entry confirmation email, and had anticipated being lapped at about half way. In fact, I found each of the runners lapping me briefly useful in pulling me along until I lost contact with them. At about this time, I selected another runner who had just passed me and worked hard to stay with her for the next few laps. As the race progressed I kept her in sight, but the distance between us stretched to maybe 25 metres or more.


My snazzy, bespoke race number!

Also from about half way, the timing team began to call out the number of laps remaining for each runner; using the names on our race number bibs. This approach made sure the information was clearly communicated. Which was useful as I was now completely lost on what my lap split times should be or for that matter how many laps I had done. The back straight water team had been shouting encouragement on every lap also using our names. This became more and more significant and I put all my energy into maintaining something approaching decent form and not losing touch with the runner in front, now maybe around 35 metres ahead. After the number of laps being called out to me reduced to single figures I checked the average pace on my watch a couple of times. I could see that I certainly wasn’t going to achieve 40:00 and that 40:30 was looking increasingly unlikely.

I felt tired, and attributed this to the same combination – of it being an evening race and that I had done no training, just two race efforts, in the previous two weeks – as I did on Wednesday. However, the combination of the small crowd on the main straight, the fantastic encouragement from the back straight water team and my still just maintained contact with the runner in front of me, meant that I still felt that I was racing. I wrestled with the idea that I might be able to catch the runner in front, but wasn’t sure that I could give much more. As the remaining laps reduced below 5, it seemed that perhaps I was closing the gap. My memory is indistinct on just when I realised that actually catching up was a real possibility. It may have been that I made a sustained effort over the final two or more laps or perhaps all the gains were made in my final sprint which I think started with 200 metres to go. I finished just 0.6 seconds behind.

race data summary

official finish time 40:41.0 PB
target 40:00 – 41 seconds outside
approx km splits pace
3:55, 4:01, 4:04, 4:04, 4:01, 4:06, 4:09, 4:10, 4:14, 3:57
155, 161, 161, 161, 162, 163, 162, 163, 163, 166
biometric summary average HR – 162
max HR – 172 (estimated personal maximum – 172)
average cadence – 182
approx start weight – 69.8kg
positions overall – 18 out of 20
gender – 14 out of 14
category – VM50-54 2 out of 2


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